All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace is a series of films about how this culture itself has been colonised by the machines it has has built. The series explores and connects together some of the myriad ways in which the emergence of cybernetics—a mechanistic perspective of the natural world that particularly emerged in the 1970s along with emerging computer technologies—intersects with various historical events and visa-versa. The series variously details the interplay between the mechanistic perspective and the catastrophic consequences it has in the real world.
Part 1 — Love and Power
Part one explores the myth that rose up in the 1990s that computers could create a new kind of stable world: They would bring about a new kind global capitalism purportedly free of risk and failure, without the boom and bust of the past, would abolish centralised political power, and create a new kind of democracy mediated by technology and the Internet, where millions of people would be connected as nodes in cybernetic systems without hierarchy. This film explores how this myth came to be by following two groups that converged on the ideas. One is the small group of disciples around the novelist Ayn Rand in the 1950s who saw themselves as a prototype for a future society where everyone could follow their own selfish desires and that would somehow create a stable and equitable society. The other is the digital entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley, many of whom were also disciples of Ayn Rand, that espoused grand visions of global utopia to be delivered by their technology. They believed that new computer networks would allow the creation of a society where everyone would also follow their own self-interest but that would similarly somehow miraculously bringing a stable and equitable society too. They were joined by Alan Greenspan who had also been a disciple of Ayn Rand, who became convinced that the computers were creating a new kind of “stable capitalism.”